Robert Bartholot is a Berlin-based photographer and art director with a passion for still life photography and graphic design. He’s worked with popular brands such as Armani, Diesel and Playstation, but also on numerous personal projects, time during which he has developed a powerful, ironic and a bit eccentric style of photography. Influenced by working for 3 years for Spanish photographer Álvaro Villarrubia – which he mentions as an amazing catalyst for his artistic abilities, but also an admirer of Jean-Paul Goude, Serge Lutens and Irving Penn, Robert has developed an unique approach to photography. We caught up with Robert who was kind enough to tell us a bit about his inspiration, process and overall experience.
Robert has always been interested in the process of constructing an image from the beginning to the final produce, and not just in capturing what is already perceived by the human eye. With his background in art history and graphic design, he manages to combine the art of photography with art direction in a complementary way.
I always had an affection to the power of images and looks, fashion and costumes. Therefore, I studied art history and graphic design. I see myself as an image-maker, which to me includes the whole process: from the concept to the final image. That’s why I don’t want to separate the two fields. I think that the combination works very well in my case, it suits my point of view, my way of working.
With a minimum scenario and inspiration coming from art history and graphic design, Robert plays around with extremes: sometimes his images are minimal, other times they are abundant. Being exaggerated is just part of the process of building a powerful message:
My general inspiration comes from art history and graphic design translated into a contemporary approach. In most cases I eager to reduce the setting to a minimum. However, I love to be pathetic and exaggerated. I suppose the power of the images and its messages lays in the relation between maximum and minimum.
Robert has the experience of working with important names from the fashion industry and not only. He confesses that the bigger the client, the bigger the restrictions and the more limited his work as an artist. But the entire experience, as limited as it may be, is necessary to develop and test artistic abilities.
The bigger the brand, the more pressure and restrictions are involved. It’s a very bureaucratic way of working and it’s very different from doing editorials or personal work. However, the bureaucracy is necessary and helpful at the same time: as lots of money and many people are involved, everything has to be synchronized and confirmed.
That is why when it comes to models, Robert prefers working with professional models mostly on advertising projects. As for his personal projects or editorials, he can work with amateurs, as it depends mostly on the project.
In most cases, I know very well from the beginning what kind of pose and feeling I am looking for. The atmosphere on the set, the set itself and the styling help the models a lot to catch the spirit.
Although Robert has worked on lots of fashion editorials and portraiture, he confesses that his favorite type of photography is still life. He considers that from still life photography you can get more, as the focus is mostly on the image. He even perceives his fashion editorials as still life, even though the subjects are persons.
I would say my favorite kind of photography is still-life. You can work in a very small team and put your focus totally on the image. The point is that I see my fashion editorials as well as my portraits as still-life images, even though human beings are involved.
As far as the future holds, Robert considers that there still is a lot out there to experiment with in the field of photography:
First of all, I want to keep exploring the combination of still life and other types of photography. At the moment I am working on the visual identity for a fashion fair in Paris.
Finally, when it comes to advice, the artist suggests that focusing on your own work and interests is key to getting things done.
Don’t look around too much and focus on your very personal interests.
We hope that Robert’s style has inspired you to find your own, whether you are a photographer or not. Enjoy some selections of Robert’s work below and for more check out his website.
All photos are courtesy of Robert Bartholot